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15: The Three Categories of Humans

(The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda)

“Controlled folly is an art,” don Juan continued. “A very bothersome art, and a difficult one to learn. Many sorcerers don’t have the stomach for it, not because there is anything inherently wrong with the art, but because it takes a lot of energy to exercise it.”
Don Juan admitted that he practiced it conscientiously, although he was not particularly fond of doing so, perhaps because his benefactor had been so adept at it. Or, perhaps it was because his personality – which he said was basically devious and petty – simply did not have the agility needed to practice controlled folly.
I looked at him with surprise. He stopped talking and fixed me with his mischievous eyes.
“By the time we come to sorcery, our personality is already formed,” he said, and shrugged his shoulders to signify resignation, “and all we can do is practice controlled folly and laugh at ourselves.”
I had a surge of empathy and assured him that to me he was not in any way petty or devious.
“But that’s my basic personality,” he insisted.
And I insisted that it was not.
“Stalkers who practice controlled folly believe that, in matters of personality, the entire human race falls into three categories,” he said, and smiled the way he always did when he was setting me up.
“That’s absurd,” I protested. “Human behavior is too complex to be
categorized so simply.”
“Stalkers say that we are not so complex as we think we are,” he said, “and that we all belong to one of three categories.”
I laughed out of nervousness. Ordinarily I would have taken such a
statement as a joke, but this time, because my mind was extremely clear and my thoughts were poignant, I felt he was indeed serious.
“Are you serious?” I asked, as politely as I could.
“Completely serious,” he replied, and began to laugh.
His laughter relaxed me a little. And he continued explaining the stalkers’ system of classification. He said that people in the first class are the perfect secretaries, assistants, companions. They have a very fluid personality, but their fluidity is not nourishing. They are, however, serviceable, concerned, totally domestic, resourceful within limits, humorous, well-mannered, sweet, delicate. In other words, they are the nicest people one could find, but they have one huge flaw: they can’t function alone. They are always in need of someone to direct them. With direction, no matter how strained or antagonistic that direction might be, they are stupendous. By themselves, they perish.
People in the second class are not nice at all. They are petty, vindictive, envious, jealous, self-centered. They talk exclusively about themselves and usually demand that people conform to their standards. They always take the initiative even though they are not comfortable with it. They are thoroughly ill at ease in every situation and never relax. They are insecure and are never pleased; the more insecure they become the nastier they are. Their fatal flaw is that they would kill to be leaders.
In the third category are people who are neither nice nor nasty. They serve no one, nor do they impose themselves on anyone. Rather they are indifferent. They have an exalted idea about themselves derived solely from daydreams and wishful thinking. If they are extraordinary at anything, it is at waiting for things to happen. They are waiting to be discovered and conquered and have a marvelous facility for creating the illusion that they have great things in abeyance, which they always promise to deliver but never do because, in fact, they do not have such resources.
Don Juan said that he himself definitely belonged to the second class. He then asked me to classify myself and I became rattled. Don Juan was practically on the ground, bent over with laughter.
He urged me again to classify myself, and reluctantly I suggested I might be a combination of the three.
“Don’t give me that combination nonsense,” he said, still laughing. “We are simple beings, each of us is one of the three types. And as far as I am concerned, you belong to the second class. Stalkers call them farts.”
I began to protest that his scheme of classification was demeaning. But I stopped myself just as I was about to go into a long tirade. Instead I commented that if it were true that there are only three types of personalities, all of us are trapped in one of those three categories for life with no hope of change or redemption.
He agreed that that was exactly the case. Except that one avenue for redemption remained. Sorcerers had long ago learned that only our personal self-reflection fell into one of the categories.
“The trouble with us is that we take ourselves seriously,” he said. “Whichever category our self-image falls into only matters because of our self-importance. If we weren’t self-important, it wouldn’t matter at all which category we fell into.
“I’ll always be a fart,” he continued, his body shaking with laughter. “And so will you. But now I am a fart who doesn’t take himself seriously, while you still do.”
I was indignant. I wanted to argue with him, but could not muster the energy for it.
In the empty plaza, the reverberation of his laughter was eerie.

(Carlos lecture, Dec 3rd 1994, Sunnyvale CA)
“Don Juan said there were 3 types of people on earth:
1. A Piss: Warm and feels good but doesn’t quench your thirst.
2. A Fart: “I’m bigger and better than you.”
3. A Puke: “I will if you beg me.”

“Don Juan called me, “Mr. Nightmare”. I was a FART.”


(Encounters with the Nagual)

“While observing the quirks of self-importance, and the homogeneous way it contaminates absolutely everybody, the seers have divided human beings into three categories, which Don Juan gave the most ridiculous names he could think of: the urines, the farts, and the vomits. We all fit into one of them.”

“The urines are characterized by their servility; they are toady, sticky, and cloying. They are the people who always want to do you a favor; they take care of you, they hold you back, they pamper you; they have so much compassion! In that way they hide the underlying reality: They are incapable of taking an initiative, and can never do anything by themselves. They need another person’s command to feel that they are doing something. And, unfortunately for them, they assume that others are as kind as they are; and because of that they are always hurt, disappointed, and tearful.”

“The farts, on the other hand, are the opposite. Irritating, mean and self-sufficient, they constantly impose themselves and interfere. Once they get hold of you, they won’t leave you alone. They are the most unpleasant people you’ll ever meet. If you are calm, the fart will arrive and wind you up and pull you in, and use you as much as possible. They have a natural gift as teachers and humanity’s leaders. They are the kind who will kill to stay in power.”

“The vomits are in-between these two categories. As neutrals, they are neither imposing nor will they be led. They are show-offs, ostentatious, and exhibitionistic. They give you the impression that they are something great, but in actual fact they are nothing. It’s all boast. They are caricatures of people who believe too much in themselves, but, if you don’t pay any attention to them, they are undone by their insignificance.”

Somebody in the audience asked him if belonging to one of those categories is an obligatory characteristic, that is to say, an innate condition of our luminosity.

He answered:

“Nobody is born like this, we make ourselves this way! We get into one or the other of those categories because of some tiny incident that marked us in childhood, whether it is pressure from our parents or other imponderable factors. It starts there, and as we grow up, we become so involved in the defense of the self that at some point we can no longer remember the day we stopped being authentic, and became actors instead. When an apprentice enters the world of sorcerers, his basic personality is already formed, and nothing can cancel it out. The only option left to him is to laugh at it all.”

“But, although it is not our congenital condition, sorcerers can detect what type of importance we grant ourselves through their seeing, because the molding of our nature over the years produces permanent deformities in the energetic field that surrounds us.”

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